THE BAY of the BIG KILLING
Bertrand W. Sinclair
THE STORY: Scud Bellamy learns llial his employer, A! Klinger, a Vancouver shipowner, is sending the Toreador north secretly to steal a deposit of walrus ivory which ten years previously had been cached at The Bay of the Big Killing by Scud's father, now dead. Klinger orders Scud to go with the ship. Scud belitres that Klinger wants him out of the way in order to break up his Uwe affair with Klinger’s daughter, Dorothy. Scud resigns, and Klinger sneer in gly calls him a lily-fingered boy.
On board the Loon, four waterfront desperados Mitchell, (lorham, Murphy and Lewis also plan to steal the ivory cache. They need money to finance the trip and decide to kidnap Dot Klinger and hold her for ten thousand dollars ransom. She is curried off while with Scud, and the latter is knocked out. Recovering consciousness. Scud tells A l Klinger. The latter thinks Scud had a hand in the kidnapping.
Klinger decides to pay the ransom. Scud knows this; also hole the money is to be paid.
Securing the aid of a friend. Peck Foster, who owns an airplane and calls himsiIf The Coast Airways, Ltd., both begin a flight to the kidnappers' vessel.
IN THIRTY MINUTES Scud Bellamy and Peck Foster were beyond that inland sea, flying toward a rampart of snow-capped mountains the long, notched backbone of Vancouver Island. Looking over the cockpit edge. Scud could see the winding ribbon of the Island Highway. They soared above a broad valley Hanked by mountains.
A few minutes later they were
Hying in the dusk that came creeping up the long gut of Albemi Canal which is merely a name for an arm of the sea, the Pacific Ocean, thrusting like a pale green spear into the heart of the land.
Scud remembered, word for word, that ransom note. He and Peck had built up a plan for reprisal on that. Beside them in the cockpit, Mark Smith brooded over a cigarette, an extra-judicial representative. Smith had flown overseas in the same squadron as Peck Foster. They could trust Mark to act as an officer or keep silent about what transpired, whichever served their purpose best.
Peck got his bearings and turned aside in a great circle, pointing the Moth skyward, climbing to a height that made Scud’s stomach uneasy. Anything over six thousand feet always afflicted Scud with air-sickness. Ten, twelve, fifteen thousand feet up, the earth below became a murky blur. Peck cut his motor to a slow idle, began to slant down in comparative silence. They couldn’t be heard any distance. In the dusk they couldn’t be seen. Gently, soundlessly, they flattened out at last and came to rest on the surface of the inlet.
They lay to, listening, watching the dim cliffs along shore. Having reckoned on just that, the ebb tide carried them seaward at two knots per hour. A couple of hours drift brought them abreast of Bird Islets, the Moth floating merged in the darkness, silent as a bit of driftwood. They didn’t even light a cigarette behind cupped hands. They sat in the cockpit, watching intently.
They knew when they cleared the Birds by the growing
nearness of Cape Beale light and the Middle Channel blinker. A slow ground swell rolled in from Barkley Sound, cradling their drifting ship.
And then, ears cocked and eyes straining in the gloom, they marked signal flashes. No mistake. They counted the winks of light and the seconds between. Then a long period in which they saw nothing.
Almost holding their breath in that hushed darkness, they heard at last the slow chug chug of a heavy singlercylinder motor such as fishing boats use on the West
Coast. It came nearer; the red, green and white triangle of running lights pointed straight at them.
Peck had a spotlight hooked to a battery. He waited, finger on the switch. The fishboat came on. When he could see her bow wave parting phosphorescent, Peck flashed his beam. He was square in the little vessel’s path and the helmsman sheered off at the blaze of light. He passed, even at that, within forty feet of one wing—and as he passed Peck searched him from stem to stempost with that narrow, brilliant beam.
The cabin was merely a dog-house forward. The helmsman leaned on the after-bulkhead of that, with his hand on the w'heel. In the cockpit aft of the fish-hold, AÍ Klinger sat with his arm around Dorothy. Their faces show'ed unearthly white in that glare. There was no mistaking them. Peck snapped off the switch. The fishboat vanished in the darkness.
"Okay,” said Peck. “He has her safe enough. Now for a little sky sleuthing, me hearties.”
The motor drummed like a machine gun. The sea creamed under the Moth’s pontoons and she took off. Peck levelled out at five hundred feet aloft. At a hundred and ten miles an hour the Moth darted seaward, crossed the imaginary line that was to have been the rendezvous of Klinger and the kidnappers. Peck stood on two or three minutes flight beyond that, and then swept in wide circles.
Scud, peering over one side of the cockpit as Mark Smith stared over the other, touched Peck on the arm. Words were swallowed up in that roar of sound, but Peck understood. He, too. looked overside.
They were up in a black void. The mountain walls that lined the Canal made a veil of black, like the gloom in a deep canyon. Dusky sky above, somewhere below them the sea. No human eye could distinguish objects on that dark, shadowed water.
But the greenish-white glow of the wake of a boat cleaving that unseen surface showed beneath them like a miniature comet’s tail.
' I 'HEY HAD calculated on just that. Their calculations ■L had been proved sound. Peck’s circle had cut the trail of some craft moving at terrific speed. He banked sharply, made a short circle. The luminous wash showed ahead. Scud estimated the craft to be making over thirty knots less than half the speed of the plane. It bore straight out to sea, out for blue water, where no small fast craft would dare venture except, they reckoned, to join a mother ship. But whether it went to sea or ran for some sheltered cove, the Moth would follow and sit down on it when it stopped.
Presently that bright, fan-shaped wake ceased to show. It was there, plain, and then it was not to be seen at all. Peck cut his motor and let the plane glide, idling for a few
seconds. Above the beat of the idling plane engine, they could hear a faint bum, bum, bum—the soft, regular beating of a mechanical heart. Scud knew a Diesel exhaust when he heard one. So did Peck Foster.
"Turn that spotlight straight down, Scud,” Peck instructed. ‘‘Keep it playing.”
He zoomed lest in losing altitude he crash the sea. When he had got a little leeway of elevation he banked, flying in a tight circle. And the beam, playing like a white finger on the sea, finally centred on the upper works of a broad-beamed, two-masted vessel.
There was a pother of figures at her starboard quarter. A dark-hulled speedboat lay against her. A figure was scrambling in over the rail. Another figure was swinging both arms in the speedboat by the schooner’s hull. This one clawed up and the dark launch dipped suddenly by the stem. Her bow tilted abruptly. Then she slid out of sight. Scuttled and sunk !
W ith that, Peck having swung on his circle so that now he
flew almost straight over the schooner, the spotlight beam suddenly became blurred, fuzzy. They had been flying in a luminous sort of darkness. Now they flew in a dark murk, as if an impalpable blanket had been wrapped about them.
Which is precisely what had happened. Only the blanket was fog the summer fog of the West Coast which at hot noon lies miles offshore, and sometimes at night rolls in to shroud and darken an already darkened land.
Peck pulled the Moth’s nose up and pointed for the stars. In half a minute they were in clear air again. Hut the fog was below, boiling up Alberni Canal like smoke on the sea’s face. A perfect screen for all that lay below. Peck shot up three thousand feet.
‘‘No use,” he yelled. ‘‘The fog has beat us. Look at it. We could have nailed ’em to the cross with the ten grand in their pockets only for that fog coming in. You fellows recognize anybody? See any name on that packet?”
They hadn’t. At their speed and elevation, even with the spotlight, it was difficult to pick out details.
“We’re done, for this time,” Scud mourned. “Curse ’em! I would have liked a whack at those dirty dogs.”
“It was a smooth job. They probably know the coast and figured on the fog,” Mark Smith said.
Peck gave the Moth full throttle, and pointed across the mountain backbone of Vancouver Island for home. Scud wasn’t uneasy, just disappointed. For a few minutes, as they hovered over that schooner, he had visions of squaring accounts with the gang that cracked him over the head and held Dot for ransom. Dot was safe enough now. He had seen her clearly and he couldn’t imagine any evil befalling her with AÍ Klinger at hand.
So he waited until after breakfast next morning before he rang the house. No, Miss Klinger had
gone out. So had Mr. Klinger. Mrs. Klinger? She was in Victoria. Uneasy, Scud called the Arctic Trading Company's office. Mr. Klinger, said the office, was aboard the Toreador. Was Miss Klinger in the office? Miss Klinger was also aboard the Toreador.
Scud hurried downstairs, climbed into his shuddering red roadster and headed for the docks. A driveway ran alongside where the Toreador berthed. A glance told Scud she was ready for sea, decks clear, hatches battened, motor rolling pluff-a-pluff-a-pluff through her dumpy stack. And Dot Klinger sat on the port bulwark, a saucy red beret on her dark head, a steamer trunk and two leather bags close by her. Scud stepjxd olí a pilehead to the rail and the deck, to find himself confronted, his way barred by AÍ Klinger and Matt Abo. ((
“Throw this young squirt off the Toreador, Matt, Klinger said to his skipper.
Matt Abo reached a pair of hairy-backed hands for Scud ’s shoulders. The Finn was grinning. He rather liked to give a man the bum’s rush off his ship. I Ie was a powerful man who liked to use1 his strength.
SCUD LOOSED a right hook that knocked Matt Alx> down. Matt bounced up like a rubber ball, however, and this time he didn’t reach for the bad boy's collar. He was stung and fighting mad and he came in like a charging bull, head tucked between his thick shoulders, swinging Ixjth fists. Any one oí his punches would have laid Scud out cold. Hut they didn’t land. Scud blocked and twisted, weaved in and out. lie was two inches longer in the reach than the Finn. There was deceptive strength in his arms and shoulders. Scud had learned to lx>x on a gym floor. Where he learned to fight he scarcely knew. Hut Klinger s skipper found himself with a fight on his hands, and Matt Abo was well thought of asa fighting man.
If Scud had been able to see AÍ Klinger's face he would have noted a kxjk of pure astonishment at the spectacle of a nice boy who had worked in his office battering a man who was supposed to be just about as tough a game as frequented the Vancouver docks. Hut Scud was texj busy. He could see only one face, something like a bulldog s, with a reddish stubble of beard and two bright blue eyes blazing above a strong nose from which Scud’s fists had started a copious flow of claret as the sporting writers playfully describe such a thing. In accomplishing such damage, Scud was hit harder and oftener than he liked. He w'as himself rapidly becoming a bloody mess. Hut he was hitting harder and faster than when he began. A fierce energy filled his veins with fire, whereas the Finn was slowing up. I he latter probably didn’t realize that, but Scud Bellamy did.
At this psychological moment, Dot, who had probably watched until she couldn't stand it any longer, chose to break out in protest. She ran toward them. As she darted past her father he caught her by the arm. She screamed. The sound of that penetrated Scud's ear. He would have turned to her cry in any crisis. And he turned now, one fleeting second. Long enough to take his eyes off an antagonist who, although beaten, as Scud knew, was dangerous while he could draw a breath. In that split second of diverted attention Matt Abo planted one punch just below Scud's left ear. And Scud dropped as if he had been shot.
When he took cognizance of things again he was propixd against the running-board of the red roadster, one longshoreman holding him up and another bathing his face with water. He could see partially out of one eye and very little out of the other. But he could see well enough to mark the broad counter of the schooner: Toreador, Vancouver, B.C., lettered in gold on black. She was two hundred yards out, a boiling wake gleaming white, astern.
“By golly, you sure socked Klinger’s Finn skipper,” one said. “But you shouldn't ’a’ turned Illustrated by W. VChambers your head when the girl squawked.
It sure was a peach of a scrap, though.’ Scud thanked the dock wallopers for their attention, climbed into his car and drove away, a prey to varied emotions. It seemed his luck to get beaten at everything he undertook.
He went first to a doctor’s office and got his face fixed up. The Finn’s hard knuckles had marked him badly. Then he sought the seclusion of his own room, which was presently disturbed by the landlady distributing the morning mail. The lone letter slipped under his door bore his address in Dot’s unmistakable script a letter that had evidently been mailed as she rode to the dock.
“Dear Scuddy: I’m all right. Those kidnappers didn’t hurt me. But dad is scared and boiling. The silly old dear thinks you had something to do with it, and I can’t talk him out of the notion. He’s going north on the Toreador and he’s taking me with him for safety, he says.
“Oh, dear, I hate the Arctic regions.
If you were along it would be oke. I wouldn’t care if we never came back. I don't want to go and 1 have to. Dad hints darkly at disaster. I’m worried about you, old dear. It’s all nonsense that he daren’t leave me in Vancouver after what happened. But you know what the barking old dear is like when he gets his back up.
“No time to write more. They’re all ready to sail. Scud, darling, don’t fall for any other jane just because I’ve gone for a while. Be good, sweetheart. Wait for me. I’ll be back in the fall if I have to float home on a cake of ice from the Arctic Ocean.
“By-by, old dear. I love you heaps.
And Scud, fingering gingerly his swollen face, said to himself forlornly that that was that.
TF.” SAID MARK SMITH, “AÍ Klinger
had not taken his daughter and sailed away on the Toreador, we might have got together with them and gone further in this matter. I could get a plane to go out from Jericho and locate that Mitchell schooner.
If she was overhauled and boarded for search, we’d probably find that ten grand in their possession. One way and another, we could pile up a lot of circumstantial evidence. For all we know. Miss Klinger might be able to identify the men. But . . .’’the Provincial officer spread his hands expressively.
“This man Stone is ¡Jositive Buck Lewis stole his speedboat, eh?” Scud frowned. "And that Gwis and Bill Murphy brought her to Vancouver? What makes him so certain?”
"Harry Stone is one of the big shots in the rum-running game," Mark Smith stated. "He has all sorts of ways of finding out any ’ underground stuff. You may be sure he is not talking through his hat when he comes to the B. C. Provincial Police, wanting them to arrest this man if he is within our jurisdiction. This black speedboat cost him twelve thousand dollars, he says. People like Harry Stone get pretty savage at Ging gypped by an ex-employee. Buck Gwis operated this boat on the Sound for Stone. He was one of Stone’s handy men for a while. I’m sure, from his description, that was his wave-cutter those bozos sank when they boarded the schooner that night.
"It’s equally certain that schooner was Mitchell’s Loon. Buck Gwis and Toot Gorham are slick and nervy ertough to pull anything. They’ve put over stuff both sides of the line, and nobody has ever got anything on them. No line on this Bill Murphy. Ben Mitchell is a hard old pill. Ex-seal poacher. He’d cut AÍ Klinger’s throat just for his personal satisfaction, let alone profit. He knifed Matt Abo in a rowup in the Arctic, and Klinger got Ben two years in the pen for that. That was a long time ago, of course. Altogether, we have a line on the men and the motive. But we can’t proceed officially without Klinger's say-so. Appar-
ently he wants to let this kidnapping lie doggo, or he wouldn’t rush off north with his daughter as soon as he gets her back, without saying a word. Funny. Klinger has always been a bad man to monkey with. There it is, though, boys, and it looks like that’s all there is to it just now.”
"You’re not going to bother about Stone’s speedboat?”
Smith shook his head.
"Can’t. Got no authority to board an American vessel on the high seas to arrest an American citizen for a crime committed on U. S. territory,” he said. "In the case of this kidnapping, we’d strain a point, and the U. S. would probably let it slide.”
"That’s so,” Scud nodded comprehension. "Say, did Stone give you any idea what these birds look like? Murphy particularly?” “Murphy’s stockily built, about thirtyeight or forty. Reddish brown hair, quite thin on top. Able seaman. Been mate on different rum-runners off the California coast.”
“Any identifying marks?”
“Murphy? Well, Stone told me Murphy had a white line like a knife scar across his neck under the left ear. Buck Lewis has three machine-gun bullet marks under his left shoulder blade. Mitchell is tattoed with mermaids and fouled anchors on both forearms. Toot Gorham has no known marks. He’s a good-looking brute. Very blonde, with curly hair. That’s all I can remember of their description.”
They talked a few minutes longer, then Smith went away. Scud and Peck Foster sat staring out the window of Peck’s cubbyhole office. Peck finally turned to Scud.
“You seemed quite interested in this guy Murphy,” he said. “What’s about him?” “I wanted to make sure,” Scud nodded. “Bill Murphy was one of the crew on the Harpoon that winter we killed the walrus and lost the old schooner in the ice in spring. I thought I saw him on the street in Vancouver a few days ago. He wouldn’t remember me as George Bellamy’s kid. But I knew'his mug. I’m wondering now. He and old Stepanfetchit are the only two men alive, outside myself, who know all about the Big Killing and the cached ivory. Stepanfetchit peddled that information to AÍ Klinger. Maybe Murphy has ivory bees in his bonnet—Murphy and this Lewis and Gorham and Mitchell. Mitchell would go for a thing like that like nobody’s business. He’s pirated all over the Arctic for years ’ “What does it matter, anyway?” Peck commented. “You’re concerned more directly with Klinger’s expedition than w’ith these kidnappers. Seems to me if they took ten thousand bucks off Klinger as easy as that they’d hardly bother going to the Arctic.”
“I’m not so sure,” Scud reflected. “Murphy knows. According to what Stone told Smith, they outfitted the Loon for a year in the north. If the Loon is headed for the Bay of the Big Killing, she’ll fetch up there about the same time as the Toreador. There’ll G complications. That quartet is aGut as tough as they make ’em.”
Scud still had a welt on his head to remind him of that.
“Then the thing to do is beat ’em Gth to it,” Peck said lightly.
“Have you,” Scud asked bluntly, “any hankering to get your finger in this ivory
"I’m a blood brother to Little Jack Homer.” Peck replied. “Another thing, my worthy, battle-scarred swain, that inclines me to listen to your blandishments, is this: On my desk this morning there reposes a communication from the Provincial Government stating that, owing to a drastic cut in appropriations for field work, they will only require the use of my plane for a week instead of the forty days I hoped to collect for. I w'ould as soon chuck that ten days into the discard. I don’t see any important money anyw’here in sight this summer. I have no encumbrances. I have the ship and she’s a good one. Make me a sporting proposition.”
Scud looked at him for a minute.
"You don’t have to take it, Peck,” he
Continued on page 47
The Bay of the Big Killing
Continued from page 22—Starts on page 20
said frankly. “I don’t know how it will pan out. We might not be able to get that ivory without fighting a tribe of Eskimos, if the taboo is still good. But if it can be taken, it is legally mine by inheritance. I have a little moneya bit over two thousand dollars, to use figures. If I finance the trip, will you fly for half the proceeds—if we can get that ivory? If it’s still there to be got? There’s a lot of ifs. Peck. It’s a gamble.”
“Life’s a gamble,” Peck said casually. “Two thousand bucks will keep a Cascade Moth and two men going a long time. I’m for it on your terms. It’s a go.”
So once more, very solemnly, they shook hands on a bargain.
HPHE MOTH swooped like a scarlet -L tanager from a great height, to circle n wide sweeps under Scud’s pointing finger. \ narrow strip of greyish-green spotted with white patches opened under them. Far northward lay a vast white waste, glittering in the sun. Peck banked and swung lower. Scud put his lips against Peck’s ear to yell: “That’s her. Can’t land. Ice floating. Gotta go back to the river.”
Peck nodded. Though the Northern summer was on and the land a carpet of green vegetation and flowers, the ice pack still held. Beaufort Sea lay locked under winter ice. The Bay of the Big Killing was
partly open, but they had to have clear water to sit down safely. So Peck swung back to a river they had crossed five minutes earlier. He dipped expertly. The plane threw a brief smother of spray from her pontoons and came to a stop. Peck taxied alongshore until a shallow backwater opened.
“There’s a good berth,” said he and nosed into the slough until the water shoaled to four feet. They threw out a grappling iron and rolled themselves a smoke.
“Well, we’re here,” said Peck. “You have a good bump of location to spot that place, old son, after, lo, these many moons.”
“I had it pretty well imprinted on my memory for one reason and another,” Scud answered. “There ware some hectic doings around here that winter and spring. The bones of the old Harpoon lie about a mile off shore from the mouth of that bay. Let’s get on land and cook some grub. I’m starved.”
“It’s a cinch,” Peck remarked as they pumped up the inflatable rubber boat they used for ferrying ashore from the floating ship, “that we have all ships beaten to this furrin’ port. That ice looks formidable. How long do you suppose it will last?”
No telling,” Scud replied. “Between sun and warming water it just keeps getting rotten and honeycombed, and then a w'ind breaks it up into floes, and first thing you know there is open sea everywhere. I thought I saw a streak of green away to the west. Mackenzie Bay may be open. We know the ice is out of the rivers. It won’t be long.”
They gathered dry sticks of dwarf brush to make a fire, boiled water for tea. The
Arctic mosquito buzzed about them. Here on the tundra wild flowers thrust everywhere through the moss, specks of brilliant color. Wild duck squadrons had marshalled along the reedy shore and hatched already. Their young flapped on the water, trying half-fledged wings. There was no other life apparent in that empty land. The fox and the Arctic hare, the seal and the walrus in their frozen haunts, were all about their business unseen and unheard. Yet as they sat smoking after their meal, as silent as the emptiness that surrounded them, unconsciously attuning themselves to the hush that could almost be felt, they looked up to see a short, round-bodied man in fox-skin parka and seal mukluks standing with a rifle in his hands twenty feet away, regarding them fixedly.
“Eskimo,” Scud muttered. He beckoned.
W ithout hesitation the native came up to the fire. His round, brown face was woodenly expressionless. He looked at them with neither curiosity nor surprise, whatever his real emotions.
Scud poured a cup of tea and offered it silently. The Eskimo smiled then, laid aside his rifle and squatted on the moss to drink. He shook his head when Scud proffered a biscuit. His small, brown eyes kept dwelling on Scud’s face.
“Where igloo? Where people?” Scud asked.
The Eskimo waved a hand in the general direction of the Bay of the Big Killing.
“Ak-moo people?” Scud asked.
The man set down his cup, stared at Scud for half a minute.
“You know Ak-moo?” he said in almost perfect English that brought a grunt of surprise from Peck Foster, who was seeing the Eskimo on his native heath for the first time.
“Long time ago,” Scud nodded. “Before I was a man. My father traded here witli a ship. We wintered here. Ak-moo was the head man of the W’alrus people.”
“He is still the head man, but there are not so many Walrus people now-,” the Eskimo nodded. He was a young man, a merry looking soul with the frank smile of a pleased child now that he relaxed. Suddenly he said:
“You are Scud. Maybe you come back for—for w'alrus ivory, eh?”
“I am Scud Bellamy,” Scud answered. “Yes, I have come back for the w'alrus ivory —if I can get it. But I do not want to make trouble about that ivory. How did you know me?”
“I am the dog robber,” the Eskimo said with a grin that showed his back teeth. “Do you remember?”
SCUD ROSE to his feet and put out his hand.
“Do I remember? We raised a lot of deviltry with everybody that winter. Well, I’ll be hanged. Grey Seal, the dog robber! How is everything?”
“Yes. Grey Seal, the dog robber,” the Eskimo nodded. “Me, I am all right. I have been away. I went to a mission school at Fort Simpson. Then I w'ork on the Mackenzie for the Hudson’s Bay Company. ¡ Then I come back to my people, because with them things get bad and I think maybe I can do something. But it is hard to do j much. There are not so many of us now'. A trading ship brought us smallpox. There are only about forty Walrus people left.” ‘Tough,” Scud said. He remembered Ak-moo’s band as over a hundred strong, a healthy, able people, perfectly adapted to their environment.
“We are not so many, and we have not so many good hunters now',” Grey Seal went on. “We need many things. I know things that would help my people if I could get them. So you have come back at last to get that ivory?”
“Is it still there?” Scud asked bluntly, i “Does Ak-moo still think the walrus spirits
would be angry if those tusks were taken
“It is a strange thing that you have come for those tusks,” Grey Seal said soberly. “This spring when the snow began to melt, Ak-moo told us of a dream. He saw a big red thunderbird fly to the Bay of the Big Killing and carry away that ivory. Men rode on this thunderbird’s back. I le said he knew one of the men, but he could not remember who he was—a white man. And then as soon as the thunderbird began to fly over the country, the bulls with long tusks came back to the Bay for another big killing. Now you are here, and there is the red thunderbird.”
Grey Seal pointed to the scarlet Moth and smiled.
“Of course I know what the thunderbird is. I rode in one once on the Mackenzie. But I could not explain to Ak-moo or my IX'ople. To them what flies is a bird.”
“You think then,” Scud said, “that he wouldn’t set the hunters on us with gun and spear if we went into that cave now?”
“I think not,” Grey Seal said. “Most of it is yours. Ak-moo would say it is all right, if we got a little share, because we heljxxl the Harpoon men kill the walrus. Ak-moo would think that the big bull walrus would come back, many of them, as they did that time. Perhaps they would. I have known strange things to come of dreams. I think better I talk first to Ak-moo, and then you. We need much what part of that ivory would buy for us. The schooners cheat us in trade. I can see that, but what can we do? You could get us new guns and a lot of cartridges, steel to make new spears and wire for snares; maybe a put-put engine for a big kayak and some tins of gas. We would lxvery rich then. Everytxxdy w'ould be happy. 1 have often thought that I would break into that cave and steal some ivory to trade with the schooners for things we need. But I was always afraid. Now, I think
Ak-moo would say it was good you take the tusks since he dreamed of the red thunderbird,” and Grey Seal chuckled.
“Has anyone ever tried to take it?” Scud asked. “Has anyone every got in the cave?”
“Once while I was away, and last summer after I came home, white men came looking around for something in the Bay of the Big Killing. We drove them away. Once the hunters shot at them,” Grey .Seal said. “We covered the opening with rocks. Do you remember? No one has ever moved a stone. Ak-moo’s people have always watched this place. They were afraid of the walrus spirits if that ivory was touched. Now, I think it will be different. I think it was very lucky you came in a red thunderbird, since Ak-moo dreamed that dream.”
“A schooner with men and guns will be here as stxm as the sea opens to take those tusks,” Scud told the Eskimo.
“We will kill them,” Grey Seal said calmly. “It is your ivory, not any other white man’s.”
“Is there ice over the cave yet?” Scud asked.
“The sun is hot. In a day or two the ice will be melted,” Grey Seal said. “I will go and talk to Ak-moo. Then you will come and talk to him. I will tell you what to
For another hour they sat talking, Grey Seal, the dog robber, w'ith whom as a lad of fifteen Scud Bellamy had played at spearing seal and building baby igloos under the Aurora when the Umg Night lay over Beaufort Sea. Grey Seal had gone out into the fringes of the white man’s world and seen some of his mechanical marvels. His people had remained pure aborigine. And under his veneer, Grey Seal was still pure aborigine himself. Apart from getting a few weapons, tools, and such simple articles as meant wealth among the Eskimo, Grey Seal did not care what became of the walrus
ivory. He had lost some of his fear of taboos and spirits. Dreams meant nothing to him except as they served a useful purpose.
When he strode off across the moss Peck Foster grinned.
“Scudamore,” said he, “it looks like you’re going to get a real break on this.”
Scud nodded. It looked almost too easy now. Just a simple matter of transportation.
WITH GLOVED HANDS, Scud, Peck Foster and Grey Seal moved the last stone that blocked the cave mouth. Ak-moo stood by, leaning on a spear, brown,wrinkled face impassive as Buddha himself. A breath of cold dry air wafted out of that hole fronting on the Bay of the Big Killing a few feet above tidewater. The Scarlet Moth rode her pontoons in the narrow gut of the Bay, all clear of ice now except in the mouth, where a huge pile of floes banked steeply on both sides of the entrance, ready to topple in. Along the rim of the east bank Ak-moo’s following, large and small, male and female, accompanied by scores of husky dogs, sat gazing in wonder at the red thunderbird which had come down out of the sky bringing a white man, whom they knew as they had known his father. Ak-moo’s dream had borne fruit, even as his first dream about those tusks—which might have been a nightmare-had locked a fortune in that cave for Scud to retrieve. Now, Ak-moo firmly believed the walrus would come again in hordes for another big killing.
Scud flicked on an electric light and walked in, Peck and Grey Seal following. Ak-moo stood back. He would not enter that cave.
The light fell on heaped tusks just as the Eskimo and the crew of the lost Harpoon had piled them. But it lighted on something else. Something that made Scud’s eyes glisten. Bundles of white suspended by wires from a jutting point of rock.
Baled skins of fox. White fox. The virginal fur that drapes the shoulders of beautiful women in civilized towns. Scud knew what they were, and their worth. He remembered those skins. Rows of them hung in the Harpoon's storeroom when the north wind brought the floes in a crushing mass to pinch her bilges. His father had taken them ashore. But a small boy didn't ask Captain George Bellamy what he did with this or that, or why. He had meant, Scud knew', to come back with another ship and get both furs and ivory. But death had found him before he could make that voyage.
Scud fingered the bales, four of them. About fifty skins to a bale. They had hung there for more than ten years, yet they were dry and prime in that natural cold storage. There was a tag on each bundle which would have told Scud this was his property even if he hadn’t known:
“Unloaded off schooner, Harpoon, George Bellamy, master. Lost in Beaufort Sea, July, ’22. 50 pelts.”
“You’d have thought,” Scud breathed' “they’d rot in all this time. But they’re as sound as the ivory—and a lot lighter to pack.”
The tusks were stacked like crooked firew'ood, higgledy-piggledy, hundreds of them, tusks of the great bull walrus. And the ice on Beaufort Sea was opening in green lanes. An offshore wind blew strong. Scud stood in thought, stroking that soft white fur.
“Peck,” he said at last. “This is bigger than it promised to be. We had better take no chances. Ivory' is heavy. But these skins are feather light. They’re mine. I have clear title to them. They were taken in trade that winter and spring. They’re a stake in themselves. Suppose you fly them out to Edmonton right off the bat? I’ll shift this ivory to a new cache while you’re gone, before those pirates get here. I have a hunch there will be two crews very eager to get hold of what is in this hole. If there is nothing here, there is nothing to fight over.”
“Be a treat to see AÍ Klinger’s face when he knows you’ve beaten him to it,” Peck grinned. “Well, I could start now and be in Edmonton for dinner, old bean, if you say so.”
“I’m saying it,” Scud answered. “The ice is going out. Strategy is better than war.”
They carried the baled furs out. Old Ak-moo broke into speech, jabbering eloquently, gesturing. Grey Seal interpreted.
“He says the walrus spirits skinned the white foxes and put them there for you. He says your medicine must be strong. He asks if the red thunderbird will fly with an Eskimo chief on its back as well as the white men.”
“Tell Ak-moo,” said Scud, looking appropriately solemn, “that the red thunderbird has to fiv far south today. That in less than four sleeps it will be back, bringing Ak-moo and his people new guns, plenty of bullets, sacks of tea and sugar. And then it will take Ak-moo on its back for a ride, as far as he wishes to go.”
REY SEAL repeated Scud’s words. Old Ak-moo looked startled at first, then happy. He swelled out his chest. He turned to stare at the red-painted Cascade Moth. Ak-moo had little interest in those tusks or furs. He believed that his people could not handle either, only skins and tusks they took for themselves. Otherwise, as he had told Scud through Grey Seal, the thunderbird might peck their eyes out. It sounded weird, but that was old Ak-moo’s conviction. Things that flew were birds, and men who rode those giant birds across the sky must be beings greater than those who walked, or sailed the sea in ships. This was quite logical to Ak-moo. If he also could ride a thunderbird—Grey Seal told Scud and Peck that if Ak-moo rode the scarlet Moth through the air he would live the rest of his years the greatest man between Coronation Gulf and the mouth of the Mackenzie.
Peck had no preparations to make beyond loading those bales of fur and transferring most of the food supply ashore for Scud. Himself, bar accident, he would eat his dinner in a restaurant twelve hundred miles south that night.
The Bay of the Big Killing was just long enough to let the plane take off. The Eskimos shivered and put their fingers in their ears when the Moth’s engine roared and the spinning prop made a circular blur in the air. They chanted 00-00-00 and aahaah-aah when she took off, swung in a circle with incredible swiftness and became a mere dot against the southern sky. Then they marched away in a body, chattering like a flock of crows about this strange thing, and Scud was left sitting on a rock with Grey Seal, the dog robber.
Scud brooded contentedly. Peck was to sell fifty fox skins for what offered, and put the rest in storage. He was to fly in a full load of such stuff as Ak-moo’s people could best use. Chance was pretty well eliminated from that long flight. They had three stores of gas en route, at established posts. The red Moth would follow well-defined waterways. She was a first-chop ship and Peck Foster a crack pilot.
Grey Seal was happy, too. He and his people were going to get many things they needed and a lot of things that came in the luxury class for native tribesmen, with a speed that savored of magic. Grey Seal wanted neither skins nor ivory. Goods and weapons alone were wealth.
“Schooners may come soon,” Grey Seal said at last, uttering almost the same thought that stirred in Scud’s mind. “The water is clear. The cave is open. We had better hide that ivory. They cannot find it if we hide it well. Then we will not have to fight.”
Scud reflected. Night—it seemed absurd to speak of night when it was no more than a short greyness of the sky—might bring the Toreador. She could steam ten knots and she would steam hard, Scud knew, and the ice always opened to the westward first. All the trading ships and whalers were in through Bering Strait long ago. Arctic bound. Scud wanted to make his victory complete. AÍ Klinger’s words rankled in his mind, as well as the bruises Matt Abo had put on his face.
“I’ll show him whether I’ve got any punch,” he thought. Aloud he said:
"Do you know a good place. Grey Seal,
where you and I could hide those tusks quickly?”
Grey Seal did. His method was simple. He climbed up on top of the low cliff. Akmoo and all his people had vanished. They had the Bay to themselves. Grey Seal voiced his idea.
One man could stand at the mouth of the cave and throw walrus tusks up to the level that ran off to an undulating plain creased with little hollows. To the very brink, that level was covered with moss two and three feet deep.
Grey Seal threw up a few tusks by way of illustration. Then he went up and carefully parted the moss, making a long, shallow trench. In this he laid the ivory as Scud heaved it up. It was a lengthy job. There were a good many hundred pounds of ivory. They sweated like ditch-diggers. But eventually the last tusk lay in that trough, and Scud watched Grey Seal deftly fit the moss back in place. W hen he had finished, a man could walk over the spot and see no trace of that vegetation ever having been disturbed.
“Only you and I know,” Grey Seal grinned. “Even my own people could not smell that out.”
“Good,” said Scud. “Now we have the world by the tail with a downhill pull.”
Grey Seal went away to his village. When Scud had eaten fried bacon and ship’s biscuit and smoked a cigarette, he turned into his blankets spread on the moss, covered his face with mosquito netting to keep off the thousands of bloodsucking pests that swarmed around him, and fell into a sound, untroubled sleep.
CCUD SLEPT soundly for hours, as a man 1 ^ will when he has been continually on the move for the better part of two days. He wakened once, looked at his watch, and turned over drowsily. He dreamed that he was surrounded by bull walrus which waved wicked-looking tusks at him and prodded him with great flippers. And he opened his eyes then to see five people standing by him, one of whom poked him gently in the ribs with the toe of a seaboot.
Scud sat up, throwing off yards of green mosquito netting which in his sleep he had managed to gather in folds about his face.
“Good morning, everybody.”
There was a sardonic inflection in this voiced greeting. Because the four men were AÍ Klinger, a seaman off the Toreador, old Stepanfetchit with his little pointed beard and furtive air—and it was Matt Abo’s boot that had tickled Scud’s ribs. Behind them stood Dot Klinger. Dot gasped when Scud unveiled himself and spoke.
“How did you get here?” AÍ Klinger demanded.
The Finn skipper’s stolid face betrayed no surprise at seeing here on the Arctic tundra a man he had left bleeding and unconscious on a Vancouver dock. But Klinger’s tone was of complete amazement.
Scud sat on his haunches, glaring at them. His expression changed for a fleeting mo; ment, to smile reassuringly at Dot. Then the humiliating things Klinger had said to him began to burn in his brain. But he disregarded Klinger for a second or two. His eyes rested on Matt Abo.
Scud had slept in his clothing. He reached now for a pair of rubber-soled canvas shoes, and laced them with quick, sure fingers.
“I asked you how you got here?” Klinger growled.
“The way anybody with brains would get here if he was in a hurry,” Scud answered casually. “I flew. You didn’t think I’d let you beat me to it, did you?”
"You found out what 1 was after an’ you’ve lifted that stuff !” Klinger raved.
“Worse than that,” Scud smiled. “You see, I knew a good deal more about this cache than you did. One very valuable part of those goods that Stepanfetchit couldn’t tell you about, Mr. Wisenheimer, is just about landing in Edmonton right now.”
Klinger’s face darkened with passion. Scud stood up. He smiled unmirthfully. He was master of the situation and he meant Klinger to feel it.
“You, Stepanfetchit,” Scud barked at the smallish, weatherbeaten old man standing ¡
by. “Take a good look at me. Do you remember me?”
The old seaman shook his head.
‘‘You cursed old reprobate, you knew that Captain George Bellamy’s son was somewhere around in the world, all right. You knew the ivory' cached here belonged to that kid if anybody on earth could lay title to it, didn’t you? Of course you didn’t recognize me as Scud Bellamy when you were hanging around Klinger’s office, selling Klinger the idea that it would be a good business proposition to come up here and grab this walrus ivory, Eskimo taboo or no taboo. Well, I knew your sly old phiz, Stepanfetchit, you hunk of cheese that my father kept off and on for ten years when nobody else would give you a berth.
“So you see, Mister Albert Klinger, I didn’t have to do any guessing to know what you were sending the Toreador up here for, with this bearded baby as head guide. This stuff is mine—ivory and fur that my father got legitimately. You were simply going to do a piece of plain or fancy buccaneering. Maybe you didn’t consider that taking this stuff—by force, if old Ak-rnoo tried to make the taboo good, as he has all these years— was the same as stealing. It happened to be my property. And it happens that I’ve got it now in my possession. Possession, you probably reckoned, was nine points of the law. I hope you enjoyed the voyage north.”
Scud’s tone was raspy, contemptuous, and Klinger’s heavy face turned a dull red.
“You,” Scud turned on Matt Abo, “probably think you got away with something too, eh? Klinger’s bouncer, huh?”
Scud didn’t waste words. He w'as no advertising man. AÍ Klinger had tauntingly told him his footwork might be good but he had no punch. Matt Abo by a fluke had seemed to confirm that on the deck of the Toreador. Scud was a nice boy but no saint. He had never taken a whipping from any man in his life. Insult and injury were things that sat heavy on Scud. He didn’t
tell Matt Abo what he meant to do. He simply started in doing it. He struck—hard. His knuckles split the Finn’s lower lip and the battle was on.
Matt Abo shook his head, growled deep in his throat and came for Scud in his characteristic fashion, head hunched down, hard-muscled arms flailing. Scud Bellamy, having fought the Finn once, knew the ferocity of his attack, the power of his blows—if they landed. So he saw to it that none did land. He weaved and ducked and sidestepped until he got an opening. Then he cracked Abo over the heart with a right that had all his weight behind it, uppercut him with the left, and made it one-two-three with another right to the jaw that set the Finn down on his haunches with a lot of steam gone out of him. He didn’t bounce up like a rubber ball.
Scud waited for him. On that springy moss, with light shoes, he was faster than any big man, and since Scud weighed around a hundred and seventy he was not precisely a runt himself. And he could hit harder than most big men—as Matt Abo was discovering.
Scud had manoeuvred to keep the Finn between himself and the others. Not that he expected to be attacked from the rear. But Klinger and the seaman carried rifles, and Scud’s instinct was to keep his eyes open to any danger. He heard Dot cry to her father: “Stop it, dad! Stop it! Please don’t let them goon fighting.” Remembering what happened on the Toreador by the dock, Scud didn't let his eyes follow his ears. He stepped backward while the Finn got up. And he jeered, without taking his eyes off Matt Abo:
“Just a nice boy. Good footwork, but no punch.”
OCUD THOUGHT Klinger would remem^ ber those words. He had already demonstrated one kind of punch that Klinger could understand, even if he didn’t
appreciate its result, and he was busy demonstrating that he carried more than one kind of punch up his sleeve.
It wasn’t the Finn’s day. Abo was bullstrong, game as a terrier, shifty for his weight, which was probably forty pounds more than Scud’s. But he could only land glancing blows on a target that moved too fast for him. And when he swung and tied himself up in a knot, or threw himself off balance, Scud would land on his ribs or face like a blacksmith’s hammer. Scud knocked Abo down three times in less than four minutes. And the fourth time the Finn stayed down—not out, just dazed. He got slowly up on one knee and stared at Scud through swollen eyelids. Then he looked at AÍ Klinger and said in a baffled sort of tone:
“I leek dees man once. I can’t leek heem no more.”
“Are you satisfied of that?” Scud asked. He was panting for breath, but there was scarcely a mark on him.
Abo nodded. His features were taking on a most unsymmetrical contour. His body must have been sore because Scud’s hands ached from pounding that ironbark Finn. But he had done a thorough job, and the Finn knew it as well as he.
“Get out of here, then, you would-be pirates.” Scud snapped. “This is my private camp. I didn’t invite you to call. There’s nothing here you want that you can have except trouble. On your way!”
Matt Abo got on unsteady legs and turned away without a word, even with a wry grin and a puzzled shake of his head. He took defeat with a better grace than Scud expected, and Scud felt a little bit sorry for the damage he had done the man. Old Stepanfetchit liad retreated at the first blow. He stood waiting fifty feet away. Klinger and the seaman turned to follow the Finn. Klinger took Dot by the arm when he started, just as she whirled to go to Scud. Scud’s heart leaped. He wanted above everything to see Dot, to talk to her, to tell her how he had got a break at last and explain this matter of walrus ivory in more detail. But he had practically declared war on her father, and he wouldn’t interfere between them.
It seemed, however, that Miss Dorothy Klinger had a way and a will of her own. She protested, argued, finally jerked herself free. She did come back and Klinger turned to watch her, glowering past her at Scud.
“Scuddy, dear,” Dot breathed, “I don’t know yet what this is all about, but you’re not off me, are you, just because you’re having a run-in with him?”
Scud shook his head with a broad grin.
“Lord bless your soul,” said he. “I’ll never be off you, Dot. You ought to know that, no matter what happens. Your worthy parent just underestimated me a little, that’s all.”
“Well, I never did,” Dot said. “And you know that, too. But he got me all worried. He tried to tell me you were in on that kidnapping. That’s crazy. But when he gets an idea in his head he hangs to it like a barnacle to a rock.”
“So I’ve noticed,” Scud observed. “Well, it isn’t a bad quality—properly applied. I’m a little like that myself. I’m that way about you. And I ’ve been clinging to an idea for about ten years now, old honey, which is becoming a reality. I can afford to disregard Poppa Klinger’s notions, so long as I’m sure of you. We’ve got the world by the tail, Dot. We can go to the Orient on our honeymoon, if we want to.”
AÍ Klinger came striding back to them.
“Dot,” he said harshly. “I’m not going to stand for this any longer. Come on with me.”
Dorothy Klinger stamped one small foot
on the moss.
“Be your age and act like a human being instead of pulling this heavy tragedy stuff on me all the time.” she cried. “I’m free, white, and I ’ll be twenty-one in September. Come off your high horse, or I’ll stay right here with Scud and live in an igloo or whatever it is they live in up here.”
Scud Bellamy laughed. He couldn’t help it. As a stem father dominating with ruthless purpose his erring offspring, AÍ
Klinger had failed as he never failed in his dealings with men.
“I'll join you in ten minutes,” Dot wheedled in an entirely different tone. “Be an old dear for once. I haven’t seen Scud for weeks and weeks. I want to talk to him for a minute. Nobody’s going to kidnap me.”
Klinger walked away breathing hard, his broad shoulders eloquent of unspoken wrath.
They sat down on Scud’s bed and talked. Dot kept glancing at her wrist watch. She got up at last.
“I said ten minutes,” she sighed. “And even if I collide with him head-on now and then, I keep my word when it’s given. I’ll be trotting along, Scuddy.”
“Will he stay up here with the Toreador all season and keep you with him?” Scud asked.
“I don’t know his plans,” Dot said. “It’s almost like being kidnapped again. He has to go back to Vancouver some time, though. And he’s worrying over things. I wouldn’t like to desert him right now. I’ll stay with the ship. We’ll be home before fall, I know. I heard him talk about flying out if he had
to. We've got wireless, you know. You can pick us up at sea. if you want to. Anyway, you’ll be in Vancouver when we do get home?”
“I’ll be there like a welcoming committee at the dock when you land," Scud assured her. “And maybe he'll decide that an armistice is better than war.”
“That's a promise.” Dot whispered. Her dark eyes glowed. She put her arms around Scud's neck and kissed him, regardless of the four men who stood off a little distance waiting and looking. Then she trotted off to join her father. Together they went down over the low cliff to where a tender rested on the boulder-strewn shore of the Bay. Scud stood on the cliff-edge and watched wet oarblades rise and fall, flashing in the sun, as they pulled for the Toreador.
And as Scud’s eyes roved Beaufort Sea. out beyond where Klinger’s ship lay at anchor, he saw the low hull and shining spars of another schooner beating up to the Bay of the Big Killing, white sails bellied taut in the offshore wind.
To be Concluded